Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Research 1:2 (August 1991), pp. 356–357. Copyright © 1991 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


James R. Shortridge has cheerfully pursued the will-o'-the-wisp of trying to describe the "idea" of the Middle West in a book that was given the prestigious John Brinckerhoff Jackson Prize of the Association of American Geographers in 1990. He argues that a careful reading of the kinds of popular publications that are indexed in the Renders' Guide to Periodical Literantre can reveal the personality and image of the region, what it originally meant to Americans, and how this meaning has changed. over time. Attempts to find meaning in places and things currently seem to be fashionable. Such efforts can be entertaining mental exercises, but all too often they tell us more about the author and his or her mindset than they tell us about the place or thing.